Patients suffering from schizophrenia are often marginalize by society and maligned by people with misconceptions about the disease. Symptoms include hallucinations, delusional thinking, difficulty expressing themselves in an organized and coherent manner, and physical agitation.
The popular TNT drama series “Perception” challenges viewers to reconsider their preconceived notions about schizophrenics. Its depiction of the brilliant and handsome Dr. Daniel Pierce (Eric McCormack) suggests a new image of the mentally ill as individuals with unique challenges but equally rare gifts.
Here are a few facts to ponder when you think about schizophrenics.
Schizophrenia is Not Preventable
Schizophrenia isn’t caused by a poor parenting, diet, or laziness, although drug use can exacerbate symptoms. Doctors don’t know what causes it. They believe there may be a genetic element, as well as, environmental triggers. Chemical imbalances and/or structural abnormalities in the brain may explain some symptoms.
Although symptoms can lesson over time, schizophrenia patients will require treatment for the rest of their lives.
Schizophrenia Presents Early In Life
Most patients are diagnosed in their teens or early 20s. Men tend to be diagnosed earlier than women, and have more severe symptoms. Some women are not diagnosed until their 30s. It’s rare for young children or adults over 45 to develop the disorder.
Schizophrenics are Rarely Dangerous
Schizophrenics are often depicted in extreme psychotic rages. While this may make for interesting television, it’s hardly fair to people who suffer from the disorder. Schizophrenics are much more likely to be quite and withdrawn than violent.
If they’re a danger to anyone, it’s usually themselves. Suicide is the primary cause of “premature” death for Schizophrenic patients.
Schizophrenics Tend to Be Smokers
Most people wouldn’t be surprised to know that schizophrenics are more likely to abuse drugs. But the fact that they are three times as likely to be smokers is unexpected. From 70 to 90 percent of schizophrenics are addicted to nicotine, whereas only 25 to 30 percent of the general public is.
Schizophrenics Can Lead Full and Productive Lives
In fact some are quite successful, like the fictional Dr. Pierce. The book and movie “A Beautiful Mind” chronicles the life of Nobel Laureate John Forbes Nash Jr., an economist who struggles with the disorder.
A number of famous musicians are schizophrenic, including: Syd Barrett (Pink Floyd); Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac); Charles “Buddy” Bolden (jazz musician); and Alexander “Skip” Spence (Jefferson Airplane). Vaclav Nijinsky, the Russian ballet great was a sufferer, as was “On the Road” author and Beat Generation icon Jack Kerouac.
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